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07 September 2017

Interview with Jan Kostevc, Infrastructure Regulation Officer at the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER)

Copyright: Jan Kostevc

In the interview with Jan Kostevc, Infrastructure Regulation Officer at the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) we were able to benefit from his expertise in international cooperation of energy market actors in the European Union and gained valuable insights.

 

What do you think are the most challenging aspects with regards to the legal and economic framework to develop a meshed offshore grid?


One of ACER’s activities is to monitor the progress of the EU’s Projects of Common Interests. As you may know, these 195 key energy infrastructure projects are essential for completing the European internal energy market in a secure and sustainable manner. ACER’s monitoring activity provides some insights regarding the challenges faced by offshore projects.  Project developers often bring up technology and permitting (especially when crossing national borders and international waters) related challenges.

Another factor that is often brought up regarding offshore wind projects is the need for a long-term stable policy framework. Current frameworks may not provide full reassurance to investors that their investment will yield the financial benefits they require. However, the possibility of a change in policy is something that affects all investors in the energy market, where the return on investment requires decades to pay out.

 

With its current winter package “Clean Energy for all Europeans” the EU Commission hints at the introduction of a new supranational institution, the so-called Regional Operation Centers (ROC). How will the ROCs foster further interconnections and cooperation between EU states?


ROCs will act as coordinators of national TSOs in those areas where regional coordination is required. Their efforts aim to provide increased system operation security, potentially leading to improved interconnection availability and usage, bringing benefits also to the market, like increased cross-border trade, lower electricity prices, etc. ROCs will improve the cooperation between TSOs by enhanced coordination of e.g. outage planning, thereby optimising grid availability.

 

Our project investigates the optimization potential of offshore wind energy by applying a meshed grid approach. The operation of such an interconnected multi-national grid in the Baltic Sea is a huge challenge. Who should operate such a complex grid?


The operator of an offshore wind farm could be the owner or the project developer of the wind farm, as long as the offshore grid that connects the farm to the onshore grid is used only for that purpose. If the offshore wind farm is connected in a meshed (or interconnected) offshore grid, this infrastructure would create an extension of the national grids of individual countries. An offshore grid that interconnects two countries and allows for additional cross-border exchanges should be operated by the TSO’s of the interconnected countries in question. 

 

One of our objectives is to establish the expert platform Baltic Offshore Grid Forum (BOGF) beyond the project duration and ensure a constant knowledge exchange on the topic of offshore grids. The BOGF connects interdisciplinary stakeholders to discuss the potential and challenges of a meshed offshore grid. What would be your expectations from a collaboration with the Baltic Offshore Grid Forum?


Forums like the BOGF offer stakeholders a platform to exchange ideas and discuss open questions that arise in the continuously evolving field of offshore wind and meshed grids. A transparent platform where these questions can be addressed and clarified can have a positive impact on the implementation of projects in this field.

Such a platform could consist of an annual regional conference or of an ongoing series of thematically or nationally focused seminars and workshop, or even both.

Connecting different stakeholders from a variety of disciplinary fields can provide valuable insight on the challenges such projects face, and shine more light on potential regulatory improvements that may be needed to make the projects operate more efficiently.

  

Thank you!